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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF011
Squidco Product Code: 7624
Kevin Norton-drums, percussion
Masahiko Kono-trombone, electronics
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• Show Bio for Kevin Norton
"Kevin Norton was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, NY. The composer/percussionist came to jazz in an unlikely setting but befriended drummer and fellow record collector Kenny Washington as a teenager. Studies at Hunter College introduced Kevin to Milt Hinton and after a short period, Kevin began to perform with Milt Hinton, eventually recording The Judge's Decision with a quartet led by Milt. Under Milt's encouragement, Kevin went back to school to get his Masters Degree from Manhattan School of Music.
After graduation he played every kind of gig available to a versatile percussionist: classical, jazz, blues, Dixieland, off-Broadway shows, rock, but especially taking part in the blossoming downtown New York City scene that strove to combine all these musics. This lead to him playing with Fred Frith's band Keep the Dog, which also included harpist Zeena Parkins and saxophonist John Zorn. Soon Mr. Norton was asked to play with a vast amount of downtown New York (sometimes called the Knitting Factory scene) ensembles. However, he longed to return to his jazz roots and began to play with downtown outsiders Phillip Johnston and Joel Forrester and their co-led band, the Microscopic Septet (and later Johnston's Big Trouble, with two CDs on Black Saint).
Still unsatisfied on a level of self-expression, Kevin began to devote himself to his own projects featuring his composition work and his improvising on total percussion (predominantly vibes and drums). Kevin has written several multi-movement pieces sometimes based on extra-musical subject matter. For Guy Debord (in nine events)is a piece for quintet and woodwind soloist (originally Anthony Braxton) based on the texts of the radical French philosopher whose thought proved central to the riots of Paris, 1968. Change Dance (Troubled Energy) draws it's inspiration from another radical political activist, Kathy Change (born Kathleen Chang). Both suites are approximately an hour in duration. On February 23, 2006 Kevin's Water and Fire Suite was premiered. It was commissioned as part of the national series of works from Meet The Composer Commissioning Music/USA, which is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and the Target Foundation.
In less than 10 years he has led and/or co-led about 20 critically acclaimed recordings, many of them making year-end "Best of" lists. On one of the recent recordings, Time-Space Modulator integrates intricate, sophisticated composition work with the deep improvisatory skills of Kevin, Tony Malaby, Dave Ballou and John Lindberg.
Kevin has also played with many highly esteemed European Improvisers such as Paul Rogers, Jo‘lle LŽandre, Paul Dunmall and Frode Gjerstad. Also, for about ten years, Mr. Norton was Anthony Braxton's main percussionist in both the "ghost trance" phase and the "standards" phase, plotting out the course for all percussionists who followed him. His most recent projects include compositions for various sized chamber groups and a duo with pianist Connie Crothers.
In June of 2002, Kevin Norton was a resident composer at the prestigious MacDowell Colony. He has served on the faculty of several schools including the University of Maryland and is currently on the faculty of William Paterson University."-Kevin Norton website (http://www.kevinnorton.com/bio.html)
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• Show Bio for Masahiko Kono
"Masahiko Kono was born December 7, 1951, in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan. He started playing flute in 1966, when he was in high school. In 1971, as a student at Wako University in Tokyo, his friend the late pianist Yoshito Osawa introduced Kono to trumpeter Toshinori Kondo. Soon thereafter Kono gave up the flute for the trumpet in order to study trumpet with Kondo. Preferring the sound of the trombone to that of the trumpet, however, Kono took up trombone in 1976. Among the trombonists he listened to a great deal at that time were Paul Rutherford, George Lewis and Roswell Rudd. Kono formed a free jazz/free improvisation group called Tree which, besides himself, consisted of two sax players and a guitarist. The group toured around Japan for about a year and then disbanded. Subsequently, Kono sometimes participated in the group EEU (Evolution Ensemble Unit), which was formed by Kondo, drummer Toshiyuki Tsuchitori, sax player Mototeru Takagi and bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa, and played with numerous other musicians, including violinist Takehisa Kosugi.
Kono made his first trip to New York City in the fall of 1980 and stayed there for three months. During this time he met and played at jazz clubs with American musicians such as percussionist Milford Graves, guitarist Elliot Sharp and bassist William Parker. After returning to Japan, he played/toured with Japanese musicians like Kondo, drummer Shoji Hano and pianist Katsuo Itabashi (with whom he made a duo album in 1983), and non-Japanese musicians like violinist Billy Bang, drummer Paul Lovens and guitarist Derek Bailey.
In the summer of '83, Kono returned to New York City, planning to go on to Mexico. At the time he had no intention of living in New York. While there, however, he frequented a club called Saint, where alto sax player John Zorn had a weekly gig. When Zorn and guitarist Fred Frith invited Kono to join them in a concert, he postponed his visit to Mexico, and eventually decided to settle in New York with his family. In 1984 he played at the Kool Jazz Festival as a member of bassist William Parker's big band. From 1985 to the early '90s, he often played with alto sax player Jemeel Moondoc's Jus Grew Orchestra. He appeared on FM station WKCR in 1987, performing with alto sax player Ken McIntyre and percussionist Warren Smith. In the fall of that year he gave a duo performance with George Lewis at the club The Kitchen, in a festival showcasing Japanese musicians that was produced by Zorn and guitarist Arto Lindsay. In 1989 Kono participated in a studio recording by drummer William Hooker, which was later released with the title The Firmament Fury. In the same year, Kono received his U.S. residency. He spent a month in Japan in December '91-January '92, during which he played with such musicians as Kosugi, Yoshizawa, Hano and guitarist Haruhiko Gotsu.
In fall of 1992, Kono spent two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico, a place he had long wanted to visit. In addition to joining in various local bands, including a salsa and a folk dance band, he played alone on downtown streets and near the ruins of Monte Alban. Although his visit was brief, he feels he gained a great deal from his experiences in Mexico. (While there he made a solo recording using a portable cassette tape recorder, and this was later released as a tape entitled Mexico.)
In the '90s, Kono has played and recorded as a member of William Hooker's band and of the Ellen Christie and Fiorenzo Sordini Quintet. The former band's live recordings from November '92 and April '94 were later released as a CD called Radiation; and the latter band's 1991 studio recording was released the following year as the CD A Piece of the Rock. In '93 the Christie and Sordini Quintet, with Kono, toured in Italy, Austria and North America. Kono played often over a one-year period with cellist Boris Rayskin, and participated in William Parker and the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, whose live recording of 1994 was released as th CD Flowers Grow In My Room. For the past several years he has played with José Halac, and he participated in the 1994 Halac recording which became the CD Illegal Edge. Since 1995, Kono has played many times with pianist Cecil Taylor's big band. Currently, he also plays regularly with Japanese bassist Hideki Kato, another New York resident. Kono led a group consisting of himself, Zusaan Kali Fasteau, Halac and Kato in a performance at the Vision for the 21st Century Arts Festival in New York in June of 1996."-Improvised Music from Japan (http://www.japanimprov.com/kono/profile.html)
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1. Missed You in Coutances, Babe
2. Walking the Dogma
3. It Must Be
4. Not Drunk, But Stunned
descriptions, reviews, &c.
"Formed in the Winter of 2000, Metaphor has already established a reputation as a group with integrity and originality in the New York music scene. Kevin Norton formed the group based on a sound he imagined: Combining the energy of a 1960's free jazz branch (i.e. Cecil Taylor) and the lyricism of another 1960's free jazz branch (i.e. Paul Bley) with the compositional and/or organizing techniques of 20th century classical music and ancient "folk" music.
Thinking of previous experiences with Wilber Morris and Masahiko Kono in Steve Cohn's group (in which Kevin Norton played both drums and vibraphone) and with one of his creative students from William Paterson University, Hitomi Tono'oka, Kevin booked a performance for Metaphor at the Knitting Factory in a three night festival of his music, before the group even rehearsed! As a rhythm section, Wilber Morris and Kevin Norton have played with great spark and sympathy in groups lead by Steve Swell, Alfred Harth and Steve Cohn. They are destined to be one of the great bass/percussion teams of this time period.
Masahiko Kono plays trombone like no other trombonist, avoiding rhythmic and melodic licks or clichés and altering the sound of his instrument electronically, blending it with the other instruments in the group, especially the vibraphone to help the group achieve a unified sound. Hitomi Tono'oka, though Metaphor's youngest member, is already developing into a singular voice on her instrument.
The compositions that center the sound of Metaphor display a wide scope of considerations. Many of them (though not all) eschew traditional song forms (i.e. 32 bar AABA) for more narrative, through-composed structures. These sonic "constructs" are an attempt to directly address the paradox of letting the individual voices of the musicians come through and yet project one unified, poetic statement."-Clean Feed
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
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